Home C-Shirt: Remixable T-shirts by Mobile Phone

C-Shirt: Remixable T-shirts by Mobile Phone

Japanese media-wiki company Nota offers a service called C-Shirt, a fascinating combination of technologies and concepts unlike anything we’ve seen before. The company sells t-shirts like Threadless or scads of other online vendors, but with a serious twist.

It’s a t-shirt, but with a mobile scannable code, wiki-like editing and a CreativeCommons license.

How it Works

C-Shirt shirts each come with a scannable little QR (Quick Response) code in the corner. If you see a C-Shirt that you like, worn by someone walking around town, you can scan the QR code with your mobile phone. (Especially if you’re in Japan where people scan QR codes with their phones all the time.) Your phone then captures the shirt’s unique URL on the Nota website, where you can load it up and edit the design however you like.

Each design is given a Creative Commons license (that’s what the C stands for) according to the wishes of the creator. Once you’ve got it how you like it, you can have it shipped to you just like any other T-shirt website would do.

The Nota publishing platform does more than just C-shirts, too.

It Works In Japan

It’s a fascinating concept that might or might not translate well to other cultures and places. Few phones in the US, for example, are capable of scanning in codes with native mobile software. Everyone’s phone can in Japan though. I spent last week in Tokyo, courtesy of Portland, Oregon company Lunarr, and saw QR codes intended for mobile scanning everywhere I went. Posters advertising things on the subway, for example, used QR codes to make it easy to follow up online.

Powerful mobile phones were all over Japan and most of the startups, investors and government officials I met there were heavily focused on the mobile sector. People make their purchases from vending machines by swiping their mobile phones past the machines and automatically paying by debit.

A bigger obstacle to the success of a project like C-Shirt in the US though might be cultural. People here at least think that we are each unique. Copying someone’s t-shirt, even with alterations, might not appeal to many people in the US. I’ve even heard people ask why they would want to buy the most popular t-shirts on Rumplo, which is like Digg for shirts.

T-shirt Inspiration

Either way, the idea of C-shirt is totally cool just to think about. Had you ever considered such a possibility? I certainly hadn’t. Maybe mobile wiki Creative Commons t-shirts could catch on all around the world! At the very least they are another example of innovation going on far from Silicon Valley.

If you’re interested in reading more about web innovation in Asia, check out OpenWeb Asia, a project we wrote about yesterday.

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